Hiding in Place, the new EP from Philadelphia’s Queen of Jeans, opens with the springy pluck of a single note on electric guitar, like a ping from a satellite waiting for a response in a long, quiet expanse. Then, Miri Devora’s voice atop guitar and drums: “Hiding in place, conjure your face/Don’t wanna lose my mind.”
This is the title track’s invitation to a four-song study of loneliness, alienation, and the unraveling that comes with those states, but it’s also bookended with moments of levity: joy and romance burst through on second track “Why Hide,” a response of sorts to the title track’s cloistered anxiety. Devora wrote the songs at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 when she had just been laid off from her job of almost 10 years. Her partner, guitarist Mattie Glass, worked 11 hour shifts at a grocery store, so Devora was alone in their apartment for months on end. When they were written, these weren’t intended to be pandemic-specific.
“While these aren’t ‘pandemic songs,’ they carry that weight,” says Devora. “There’s that sense of loneliness and even longing that I think for many have gone hand-in-hand with the pandemic. Hiding in Place is like hiding within these walls that we were confined to, but it’s also about hiding within yourself and not being able to necessarily express any kind of fears or desires you have.”
This is part of what makes Hiding in Place such an apt collection for this moment: with this EP, which follows the band’s 2019 LP If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid, hiding can be a safe release or a painful suppression, depending on the context. That duality—and the complicated nuance of lived experience that it suggests—defines our lives now.Queen of Jeans came together after Devora and Glass met in 2015. They’d both been in a string of other bands in Philadelphia, but felt like they were being treated as accessories rather than equals. Queen of Jeans was created as a project for Devora and Glass to be creative and call the shots on their work. They recruited drummer Patrick Wall the following year with the release of their self-titled debut EP.
Devora wrote the rhythm guitar, keys, and vocal melodies for Hiding in Place before sharing with Glass, who added bass and lead guitar lines. The demos were then sent to Wall for drums, and the trio convened at Will Yip’s Studio 4 in Conshocken once things felt safe in late summer 2020. They recorded three tracks with Yip and a fourth, “The Wait Is Over,” with Matt Schimelfenig at his studio in the Poconos.
Devora says lead single “Hiding in Place” came together in about 10 minutes while she was stuck at home thinking about everything, and everyone, she was missing. It’s a breezy, earworm guitar pop sway, with Wall’s live drum samples repurposed by Yip as a human drum machine across the whole song. They bubble beneath the surface before bursting in on the chorus with full vigor, topped with saccharine harmonies and a crisp springtime melody line bringing sun to even the most stressful of human interaction: “Even if we fight at least I know you’re there,” sings Devora. The track sounds like a gray, wintery east coaster dreaming of California sun, evincing the two essential pandemic states: feeling stir crazy and depressed, and dancing like a maniac through the house just to feel something.
“Why Hide” exchanges this for palm-muted chording and darker atmospherics soundtracking a defiant return to intimacy and connection, unfolding into a celebratory chorus: “You’ve got me safe in this place/Will you stay, will you stay the night?” This is the flip side of the first track’s shy introversion. “To me it’s classic rom-com story telling that we all crave,” says Devora. “My songs are usually focused on the end of a relationship or something breaking down. ‘Why Hide’ is the opposite: you’re at the precipice of the thing.”“Was I Ever” follows, a slice of pop-shoegaze with the EP’s most tense, pained moments on its soaring chorus: “Now when you hold me, I’d rather be lonely/You arms don’t leave any space/There’s only a longing for some reason to move on/Was I ever good enough?” Devora belts, again demonstrating an easy expertise with melody. “The Wait Is Over” closes the EP, a pensive, romantic craving under thudding drums and woozy guitar plucking: “I know I’ll be fine when I have you here in my mind/Say the wait is over now,” the chorus vocals plead.Hiding in Place sees Queen of Jeans return to the top of indie rock and guitar pop royalty. Sorry, but we gotta say it: long live the Queen.